Designing A Trade Show Booth That Draws Like A Magnet

Designing a trade show booth is a combination of art and science. It’s only natural for exhibit designers to want to create unique, elaborate, colorful and (often) expensive displays. It shows off their skills. While there may be a place for that, it’s important that your booth function on some basic levels (the science part) before you add all the artistic bells and whistles.

Our design team has attended hundreds of shows. Over and over, we’ve seen exhibitors spend fortunes on exhibits that didn’t meet the ten basic criteria offered below. As a result, they repelled—rather than attracted—prospects.

An example of designing a trade show booth for success - Island Backlit Display with Locking Storage Monitors and Charging Stations

RENTAL – Island Backlit Display with Locking Storage Monitors and Charging Stations

If you want your booth to be a traffic magnet, stick to these suggestions:

1) Is it open?
Time and time again, I’ve seen exhibitors block themselves off behind tables or registration desks. Prospective customers don’t feel welcomed. They feel intimidated. Making your booth open to the aisle, so that prospects can enter freely, will increase your exhibit’s effectiveness.

Take traffic flow into consideration as well, when designing a trade show booth. Can visitors move from the product demo area to the place where you’ll be getting their information or writing their order? Don’t make your display into an obstacle course.

2) Is it visually appealing?
Every trade show is a riot of color and action. To get leads, you need to compete successfully with all the distractions going on around you. If your booth looks boring, prospects will walk right by.

Just like an artist, you have a pallet of colors, design, show lighting, product displays and other elements with which to create an appealing display. Make the most of it. You only have about three seconds to capture the attention of passersby.

3) Does it identify your company effectively?
From experience, I can tell you that many exhibits don’t even feature the company’s logo or name prominently in the booth. This is an epic fail when designing a trade show booth. Consider this a minimum element of effective display design.

When your company name and logo are part of then exhibit’s architecture, you can easily change your graphics to promote different products from one show to another. But your company name will still stand out and help people find you.

4) Does it coordinate with your branding?
Your exhibit’s design and color scheme should match all of your branding, from the literature to the logo. No matter how creative it may be, mixing messages or images creates confusion and dilutes your brand identity.

5) Are your graphics well placed?
When designing a trade show booth, consider where and how you’ll display your graphics. As I mentioned above, these can easily be swapped out between shows (if necessary) to highlight different products or services.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen exhibitors spend considerable sums on graphics that didn’t attract attention because they weren’t easily visible. They were too close to the ground. They were behind a table, desk or partition. They were behind cluttered product displays. In all these scenarios, the graphics weren’t allowed to do their job.

6) Are your graphics appropriately illuminated?
Remember that the eye is attracted to what’s “hot” (meaning what’s well lit). It’s human nature. So if your graphics don’t have enough light on them, visitors may miss them altogether. This is true whether you’re using backlit graphics or traditional poster-like images. Lighting helps focus attention. When designing your trade show booth, keep this in mind.

Designing A Trade Show Booth using navigator backlit displays to create great looking backwalls

Backlit displays used to create a 20ft back wall

7) Is it memorable?
Here at American Image Displays, we sell a lot of exhibits. We could make them all cookie cutter copies of each other. But our goal is to make each exhibit a unique expression of a client’s identity. That’s what makes each client’s exhibit memorable. It’s not just another tabletop, ten by ten or modular display.

When designing a trade show booth for one of our customers, we want it to be a one-of-a-kind representation of the client’s brand. As a result, the exhibit gets noticed and tells attendees who the client is and what they do. Beyond that, it presents a unique benefit the client can offer booth visitors. Those three things help make a booth memorable.

8) Does it communicate your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
Scores of books have been written about how to create an effective USP. It’s a brief statement that tells how you can benefit your prospect, and what makes you better than your competitors.

A booth that expresses your USP gives passersby a reason to stop and find out what your company can do for them. When designing your booth, find a prominent place to showcase this information.

9) Is there ample storage?
Again, from experience I can tell you that a lot of companies put aesthetics ahead of practicality. When designing a trade show booth, you need to consider how much “stuff” you’ll have to store during a show.

You’ve probably already considered space for literature and giveaways. But there is also the personal property of people who will be working the booth. That means coats and other clothing, briefcases, suitcases, computer bags…the list goes on and on. Plan for this, so it doesn’t spill out into the part of the booth everyone sees.

10) Will it achieve your goals?
A trade show exhibit can win awards for design and still fail miserably at meeting its objectives. So don’t let style be the sole dictator of what will your booth “effective.”

How will it help you sell more products or get more leads? Think that through before you begin the design process.

Designing a trade show booth that attracts show visitors is what we do at American Image Displays. And we cover the breadth of exhibiting, from tabletops to portables and modular island sized exhibits. We’d love to help you design your next booth. For a free, no strings exhibit consultation, speak with one of our exhibiting professionals. We’ll show you how your display can reach its full potential. Simply call (800)676-3976 or email [email protected]